Back in January of 2016, I made a New Year’s resolution: I wanted to read more often and more consistently. As I know that no resolution sticks unless I make it a habit,  I made a plan and started reading every evening before bed.

This has resulted in my reading and listening to 23 books in 2016 and so far, 27 books in 2017. In addition, I also released my very own book this year—Keep Calm and Enjoy the Ride—all very good reasons to share my top 10 reads to help you train your brain over the holidays!

1. Peak: Secrets From the New Science of Expertise, by Anders Ericsson

Perhaps the most important research on peak performance has been done by a Swedish psychologist named Anders Ericsson. Over the past decade, quite a few books have been written about Ericsson’s findings, with Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers being the most famous. However, in Peak, Ericsson explains in his own words how to interpret his research and what the defining factors for mastery and success really are.

2. Keep Calm and Enjoy the Ride, by Annette Paterakis

This is my first book and a summary of my work so far. I aimed to write an easy to read and accessible book on mental toughness for equestrians of all ages and from all different backgrounds. You will learn more about the psychology behind the sport and get tips and exercises to help implement these theories into your daily riding routines.

3. Grit, by Angela Duckworth

In her bestseller, psychologist Angela Duckworth digs deeper into the work of Anders Ericsson and adds her own research studies to answer the abiding question, “What is the secret to outstanding achievement?” Her conclusion, in a nutshell, is that outstanding achievement is a unique combination of passion and long-term perseverance which she calls “grit”.

4. How Champions Think, by Dr. Bob Rotella

Dr. Bob Rotella has written many books on mental toughness in relation to golf. In this book, however, he explores and analyzes the most important character traits in athletes. Apply these traits to yourself and you will set yourself up for success!

5. Open: An Autobiography, by Andre Agassi

I’m sure many of you have already read this masterpiece, but for those who haven’t yet, this autobiography provides an impressive view into the life of one of the most successful and beloved athletes in history. To me, the most beautiful lesson it reveals is the importance of having a strong “why”: a true and lasting purpose for doing what you are doing.

6. Mind Gym: An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellenceby Gary Mack

Mind gym is an easy to read yet profound book on sports psychology and the power of the mind. It includes 40, helpful lessons as well as inspiring anecdotes.

7. Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, by Amy Cuddy

After her moving TED talk, Amy Cuddy decided to translate her research findings into a book and in it, explains how we can achieve “presence”—the state in which we stop worrying about the impression we’re making on others and instead adjust the impression we make on ourselves. In case you want to learn how to let go of what other people think of you, read her book and get comfortable with your own powerful presence.

8. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg

If you want to know how to change your bad habits into good ones, you definitely want to read this book. It explains clearly how our behavior, actions, decisions and even our thoughts are all influenced by our habits and how we have the ability to change them.

9. Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham and the Science of Success, by Matthew Syed


In case you want to dive deeper into Anders Ericsson’s work and find out more about what the secrets to improvement and success really are, you must read Bounce. Apply the principles of deliberate practice and you will see steady but sure improvements in your riding and your results.

10. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, by Don Miguel Ruiz

Finally, this book is a must-read for those who would like to improve their relationships with a spouse, partner, trainer, sponsor, or parent. Apply these four simple yet powerful lessons and you will notice a profound difference in how you think and act in every encounter.

With a background in the show jumping sport, Annette Paterakis is a performance coach, specialized in mental coaching equestrians. She is passionate about working with riders to help them better understand the mind and to provide the framework for creating the right conditions to reach peak performance.

For more information on Paterakis, please visit her website at www.annettepaterakis.com.

-Photo credit: Tori Repole